Profile

  • Country Manager for Belgium and the Netherlands at Demsoc, establishing our practice, thought leadership and partnerships in the region.
  • Previously, the Participation Expert and Project Lead for Participatory Budgeting in the city of Antwerp.
  • A regular public speaker with past engagements at Europcom and a workshop at the Democracy Challenge in The Netherlands.
  • Obtained an MA in Sociology at K.U.Leuven.

3 things I’m good at or enjoy

  • Process design, I just love thinking about it, and I feel am able to see the obstacles and improvements quite quickly.
  • When I am very enthusiastic about something, I am able to draw other people into what I believe in.
  • I am never indifferent, news and situations can really touch me. And I will be able to think through what I can do about it, what to take away from it, and how to stay engaged.

Something I’ve achieved/proud of

The PB process in Antwerp that I imagined and developed from scratch. 6 years later, it stands on its own feet and serves as an example to so many other cities. One of the most successful aspects has been attracting people from all kinds of communities, including people in poverty or from a migration background, young people and various religious groups.

3 things I’m not so good at

  • The more pressure is put on something, the more I tend to postpone doing it. But once the deadline comes along, the pressure helps me to really make it happen.
  • Leaping into situations that I am not prepared for. I don’t want to make it up as I go along, I really want to know my projects thoroughly, and feel like I can can answer every question.
  • Small talk, networking and meandering conversations without a clear purpose. There’s a real threshold in approaching other people without having a clear common ground.

What I’m currently working on at Demsoc

At Demsoc, we place a lot of faith in the network aspect of our work, and this matches my experience on how cities collaborate. The Incubator project with the Council of Europe aspires to to this in a lasting way, and the team and I are now working on the details and the participants to this.

As the Benelux county manager, my first impulse at Demsoc was to use my civil servant point of view to see how we can help cities and their administrations feel able and well prepared to take on PB, again using the network approach. The Benelux learning network for cities is at the heart of that, and takes city administrators on a journey to pick up the skills and the know-how to run their own PB cycles.

Aside of this, I am strongly involved in our work with Climate KIC, from a content and design point of view, ensuring that European citizens are involved throughout the process of preparing for a profound societal and economic transition. I do a great deal of public speaking, because inspiring and convincing people is such a big part of the work of making citizen engagement part of our everyday political life.